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19 July 2024
Alan Morris in Albacete.

While browsing the Internet, I saw the group, Texas, were playing in Albacete. I had never been to see either, so I decided to travel to Albacete and see the group. Kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes.

Texas in Albacete.

I woke before the alarms I set this morning, at about 7 am. I got up and had a coffee before taking a shower and shaving. After my ablutions, I packed some clothes, a wash bag, a laptop and tablets into a small rucksack. Then I sat watching television until about 9:15 am when I went outside to get some fresh air and to wait for my neighbour John to pick me up in his car.

We drove to Balsicas and I arrived in plenty of time for my train at 10:30 am I sat in the cooler waiting room until the train arrived, and I boarded the train. It was very clean but otherwise a regular train. This train took me to Orihuela Martinez Hernandez train station, where I had to change platforms and get on a new train. This train station was very much like an airport. We had to pass through a waiting line to show our tickets and have all our baggage passed through one scanner as we also walked through a body scanner. The train was waiting on the next platform, the guard told me which way to go to get on my carriage as I had pre-booked my seat. The train was a lot newer and nicer; it was one of the high-speed trains they used. I watched the speed on the cabin screen, but after it passed 300 km/hr, the screen stopped showing the speed.

The journey flew by, and right on time, I arrived in Albacete at another train station that resembled a modern airport. I walked the short 5-minute walk to the hotel I would be staying in, but my room was not quite ready. I checked in and then went to a nearby shop to buy a slice of pie and a bottle of Coke. I had stopped for a beer in a nearby cafe, but after waiting 20 minutes and not even being acknowledged, I got up, went for a walk, and found a small bakery. After my short walk, I returned to the hotel, and my room was ready.

The room was very small, it looked more like one used by people working here during the week. It was tidy and clean but nothing special, maybe that's why it has only two stars. When I got to my room, I unpacked and tried to use the WIFI, but the password I had been given didn't work. I returned to reception, and they said they would reset the modem. There were no USB charging points, no fridge, no kettle, no water and no tea-making facilities in my room. The shower was so close to the toilet that if I needed to use the toilet, I had to open the shower door or turn sideways. I thought I would just fit in the shower but would leave that till tomorrow to test. I need a rest so I try to sleep for an hour or so before going out for a look around.

At about 6:30 p.m., I went out looking for an Italian restaurant I had seen that looked quite good. Unfortunately, when I arrived, it didn't open till 8:30 p.m. I walked through a park area in the middle of the road I was staying on. After walking for a while, I came to a beautiful fountain and sat down next to it to cool off. While sitting there, I saw an old train engine displayed in the park. After getting my breath back and cooling off, I walked back to the hotel but stopped at a Consum supermarket. I bought two cans of beer, Budweiser 330 cl for 61 cents a can, a bargain, and some iced pastries, they should keep me going until I go out for something to eat later.

When I got back to the hotel, the Wi-Fi was working. I looked at the football scores, opened a can of beer, and lay on my bed to rest my legs. I think all the extra walking I did today and the heat got to me. When I sat down, I didn't want to get up again. I wasn't very hungry; by 9 p.m., I was in bed.

Exploring Albacete.

I woke up at about 8 am I did sleep well last night and felt better this morning. I went down for breakfast in the hotel and paid extra to include the breakfast buffet.

When I got to the buffet, I was told I could have coffee with or without milk. The breakfast buffet consisted of ham and cheese straight out of a multi-pack. I was told I could have two pieces. I surreptitiously took 2 pieces of ham and hid a slice of cheese underneath. I picked up a roll, toasted it, and sat down to enjoy my sumptuous breakfast with coffee, milk, and a glass of orange. Being somewhat hungry, I waited till the guard wasn't looking and took a Croissant and quickly put jam on one side and honey on the other.

After breakfast, I went back to my room for a shower. This isn't a complaint about this hotel but all hotel suppliers. The shampoo and shower gel bottles are so small that I can't read the writing, even with my glasses on. I am sure my albeit short hair smells nice this morning and looks well gelled up, whilst my never regions probably looked shiny, and my hair there bounced with body and will make people's heads turn and wonder what brand of shampoo I use.

After my shower, I sat in my room for a while, looking at Google Maps to see what I could go and see within walking distance of the hotel. I walked through a shopping area, but everything was shut. Not even the cafes were open. I continued walking until I got to Abelardo Sanchez Park. I looked around the park, stopping to look at some of the statues and to get some rest under the shade of the trees. I looked at Google Maps on my mobile phone and saw a botanical park within walking distance, so I headed there.

It got very hot and I had to stop a few times en route to the park to rest my legs a little, but I did manage the walkthrough Albacete to the botanical garden of Castilla La Mancha. I did enjoy walking around the garden, through the cacti and succulent house and taking photographs as I walked around. While walking through the garden, I saw a massive spider in its web, wrapping its prey in a web of silk to save and eat later. I did get a good close-up photo that you can see in my trip photos.

After walking through the gardens, I decided to go for something to eat, and I walked back to the Italian restaurant I went to yesterday and found closed. It was a long walk, and I had to stop many times to regain my breath and rest my feet, which were swelling up. I arrived at the Italian restaurant, Pizzeria Day and Night, absolutely shattered. I went inside a beautiful air-conditioned restaurant and was immediately shown to a table by a waiter who gave me a menu. I looked through the menu and decided on a Fruits of the Sea Pizza with tomato, mozzarella, prawns, tuna, anchovies and egg. It was beautiful and I washed it down with a cold bottle of water.

After leaving the restaurant, I went to a Consum store to get a bottle of water for my hotel room and then back to the hotel to sleep before I went out tonight to see Texas in concert. 

Texas in concert.

I woke up feeling a bit more refreshed and decided to walk to the place Texas was playing. According to Google Maps, it was straight up the road my hotel was on. I walked for about 3.5 km and came to a road bridge over a motorway to an industrial estate. The bridge had a small concrete path on one side, so I walked over it. When I got to the other side of the bridge, the path ended, and a fence closed the walkway. I had no choice but to continue to the venue, which was supposed to be, according to Google Maps, less than a few hundred metres away, walking up the road. Following Google's instructions, I turned right into an industrial estate where Google and my mobile phone announced that I had arrived at my destination. I was, in fact, at a Spanish Vehicle testing centre. I was shattered, and I was now panicking about how I would find the place the concert was on.

Whilst I stood at the side of the road, a car pulled up next to me with two young ladies in it. They asked me if I knew where the venue for the Texas concert was. I explained that, just like them, I had come here using Google and was now lost. They told me they thought they might know where it was, so I gave them my best, harmless little chap smile and asked if I could get a ride with them. Amazingly, they said yes and opened the door so I could get in. Not many young girls would of, or should of, given a strange man that they have just met, who doesn't speak their language, a lift. They, however, were very good, and they did. Luckily, they found the venue not very far away and parked right next to it, so I didn't have to walk too far. If you read this, girls, thank you very much I couldn't have gone on without your help.

The venue was opening, so I went inside to cool down and get a beer. I ordered a bottle of beer and the woman working gave me two bottles of beer. I gave her €10, and she complained that I didn't have the right money. A lady in the queue behind me stepped forward and gave her 20 cents so she would not have to bother counting out change for me. The bottled beer worked out at €2.60 for a 330 cl bottle, which I thought was quite good. I thanked the lady for the 20 cents and sat at the only table at the horrible little bar at the venue. Very quickly, a long line formed at the bar, and I was pleased I got there early. Within about 20 minutes, they ran out of bottled beer and only sold poorly poured draught beer in plastic cups. I finished my beer and went to my seat to watch Texas perform.

I loved Texas they were brilliant, and it was strange listening to so many Spanish singing along at the top of their voices in English, with Spanish accents. When the first half of the concert had finished, the group had a break, and I went for two more beers, this time, small plastic cups of draught beer that cost 4€ each. It was no wonder the bottled beer ran out so quickly at that price.

When I returned to the concert, I moved a few rows to a section that was almost empty and had been set aside for wheelchair users. My legs had become painful being squashed up sitting in a normal row, and no one complained when I hobbled down to the disabled section with my stick. It was nice to stretch my legs out straight in front of me, and I watched the rest of the concert from the disabled section. Unfortunately, when everyone got up to dance during the show's second half, it became apparent that the disabled section was on the same level as the few rows in front of it, and nobody in a wheelchair could see anything when the rows in front got up to dance. This was very poor planning by whoever positioned the disabled section. Luckily, I could stand up and lean on my walking stick to see the show.

I loved all the songs but at the end of the show, I was blown away by Sharleen Spiteri when she announced the last song she would do was by ´The King´. She said that if people didn't know who ´The King´ was, they could leave and go home. She then sang ´Suspicious Minds´ by Elvis. It was brilliant and has to be one of the best versions I have ever heard.

When the concert finished I went outside to look for a taxi, there was no way I could walk home, my legs were too swollen and in too much pain. Unfortunately for me, there is no taxi rank outside the venue, luckily there is a big hotel next to it. I walked to the hotel and asked the receptionist to ring me a taxi to take me back to the hotel I was staying at. The young girl rang me a taxi and said it would pull up right outside, but it may be a little while before it arrived. I walked outside to wait, and within five minutes, I was picked up by a silent, electric-powered taxi. The taxi took me back to the hotel I was staying at, and by about 1 am I was back in my tiny room and could take a painkiller. I was soon fast asleep.

Killing time and going home.

I woke around 8 am and went for breakfast at about 8:45 am The breakfast was again poor, I had two croissants, one with ham and cheese and the other with jam and honey. I washed it down with a cold coffee and a glass of orange before going back to my room for a shower.

After showering, I packed my rucksack, and at 11 am I checked out of the hotel. I decided to walk in one of the other nearby parks. It was pretty nice but it soon became apparent that yesterday's walking had taken more out of me than I thought. Very quickly, my legs began to swell up again, and I had to stop for rest and a painkiller. I decided that although I had planned on more exploring I wasn't in a fit enough condition to do any.

I went to the train station and sat down with a bottle of water and my Kindle to read. I had 5 ½ hours until my train arrived. I discovered that there was a McDonald's upstairs, but there were no bars, so I went there for something to eat. I had a meal deal with burger, chips and chicken nuggets. I did also have a McBeer, seriously, they do sell beer, so that was a bonus. The food was crap, but it filled a hole in my groaning stomach. As I left, I noticed that the place next to McDonald's was a gym. Weirdly, it was sponsored by McDonald's. The gym emblem looked like the famous golden arches McDonald's sign but looked like the first arch had collapsed on the floor, I wish I had considered photographing it. This trip had a few firsts, my first time seeing Texas, my first time having a beer in a McDonald's and my first time seeing a McGym.

After my meal, I walked through security to the part of the station where departures would leave. It was just like being in an airport but with fewer people. I spent the next few hours reading my Kindle until it became time to catch my train. Once again, the train was very nice, reaching over 300 km an hour.

The train journey from Albacete to Orihuela went by quickly as I read my Kindle. When we arrived at Orihuela, we went through security again to return to the regular part of the train station. It became noticeably less pleasant, and the staff were less helpful. I was ushered to a different platform and told to get on the train there. I asked a Spanish lady already on the train if it was going to Balsicas, and she confirmed it was.

The train stopped at Murcia on the way, as it had on the outward trip. As we sat there, a guard came aboard and ushered everyone off the train. He gave us no instructions on why but another train was next to us with open doors. Everyone stood there waiting until the electronic signage on the side of the train door confirmed it would take us the rest of the way. The train wasn't as lovely as the very posh AVE train but was comfortable and soon had me back at Balsicas where I exited the train. I was very happy when I saw my neighbour John sitting there waiting for me, my legs were once again hurting quite a lot.

I was soon home in my apartment. I put the air conditioning on and lay down to rest on my sofa. I believe it was because my neighbours were so happy I was home safe and sound that a welcome home rock and roll band was now playing outside at Plaza del Espejo. It would not be a quiet night, but after taking another painkiller, I didn't care and was soon fast asleep in bed.

Summary.

I enjoyed my weekend away and quite liked the city of Albacete. I would say no if you asked me if I would stay in the same hotel again. If you asked me if I would revisit Albacete, I would say possibly. If you asked if I would go and see Texas in concert again, I would say absolutely, and if you get a chance to go and see them yourself, they are brilliant.

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